The brands you choose matter

Compatibility in a marriage for most people comes from having similar tastes and backgrounds, such as their level of education, religious beliefs, family upbringing, and everyday choices made in life. A recent study has found that brand compatibility is more important than these similarities in determining how happy you are as a couple.

Research on brand compatibility and its impact on relationships, by Professor Gavan Fitzsimons, found that if a partner continually imposes the brand of their choice over that of their wife or husband it will eventually have a negative impact on their marriage over the course of life together.

The Test

To test the theory, researchers conducted studies in several settings, which all produced the same results over and over again.

The researchers used brand preferences in soft drink, chocolate, coffee, beer and cars in order to study couples. Some couples were tracked over the course of two years analysing their relationship power, overall happiness and marriage satisfaction. When couples had strong preferences for different brands there was a bigger impact on their marital happiness, than differences in values and personality traits.

The Findings

The researchers found that when brand compatibility is high, life and marriage satisfaction will also be high. Conversely, the reverse would be true, that if there is low brand compatibility, then there is likely to be more relationship conflict and dissatisfaction experienced in the marriage.

The researchers considered the importance of power imbalance in society, suggesting that more strong-willed people will be dominant in their marriage, and impose their own preferences and choices onto their wife or husband. They found that the effect of brand compatibility is related to power imbalances within the marriage.

This typically results in the wife or husband who has been more accepting of situations, developing a sense of frustration and general dissatisfaction that over time will eventually become resentment within the marriage. Those partners who have low power in their marriage feel that they can’t influence their partner’s decisions and behaviour and tend to find themselves essentially stuck with the brands that their partner favours over and over again.

Why is this a problem?

The researchers commented that although “Most couples won’t break up simply over one partner liking Pepsi and the other liking Coke, but 11 years into a marriage, when your husband or wife keeps coming home with Pepsi, day in and day out, it might start to cause conflict.”

This is due to the sense of power imbalance building up over the years, making the low power partner feel increasingly lesser than the other.

The researchers suggested that the partner who has more power in the marriage may not even be aware of this imposition. As seemingly innocent as this may be, the wife or husband with the least power will develop feelings and thoughts of marriage dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

The importance of brand choice has increased over the past decade or so, as brands have evolved to have greater influences in the daily lives of people. Indeed brands have developed marketing strategies aimed at influencing consumers to form strong personal identification with them and create brand loyalty.

The study found that people are beginning to consider brands not just as products, but as representative of their personality and how they perceive themselves in the world.

Brand Happy

The results have significant implications for couples, whether married for many years, or just starting out in their marriage. People seeking a loving and committed relationship should consider parading the brands they most favour in front of any seriously considered life partner to help determine compatibility.

Brands are not given the same weight as other relationship-influencing factors because they are not seen as significant. However this study has found that brand preferences are an important aspect of marriage that should be discussed with your husband or wife.

To ensure that both people are fully happy with their marriage, it’s important that couples compromise and re-balance power differences so that either person does not end up only enjoying their wife’s or husband’s brand over and over again, leading to dissatisfaction for one, and an unhappy marriage for both.

Brick, D., et al “Coke vs. Pepsi: Brand Compatibility, Relationship Power, and Life Satisfaction,” in ‘Journal of Consumer Research’, June, 2017